How to Nourish Your Thyroid

Nurturing your thyroid

The body is a beautiful symphony; when one part, especially the thyroid (the conductor of the symphony) is dysfunctional, the entire body seems “out of tune.”   However, when the body is in balance there is this orchestral harmony that comes together to make sure the metabolism is high, the stress/adrenal reactions are balanced, detox pathways are clear which means hormonal levels are balanced, our hair and nails grow, our periods (or sperm count) are normal which makes fertility a greater likelihood, the birds are singing and the sky looks a little bluer.

In all seriousness, there is no way to selectively heal the body.  If you treat one function you must make sure all of the functions are in balance.  If there are only slight dysfunctions, nourishing one system will, generally, bring the others back into line, but, luckily, if you nourish one system you are more than likely nourishing them all.

Yesterday we looked at How to Destroy Your Thyroid, meaning many of the common foods and imbalances that can cause the thyroid to stop working properly.  (And we were met with quite strong objections, I might add.)  I understand when one chooses a side in the “partisan nutritics” battle, it can be hard to hear conflicting evidence, especially if you are taught eating muscle meat until you “moo” with little carbohydrates is the bomb diggity in getting your body into tip top shape, or raw veganism is the only way to nourish your body and that the body cannot metabolize cooked foods, you are taught to avoid sugar at all costs,  to eat no fat, lots of whole grains, I mean really, it’s a lot to take in and understand, especially when you are battling a lot of these issues yourself.   I know, I’ve been there.

One of the main reasons I got into clinical nutrition and onto holistic and functional nutrition is the fact that I got sick.  Really sick.  I won’t bore you with the details of just how sick I was but about 12 years ago half of my thyroid fell apart.  Seriously, my thyroid function was “normal” however, it was also enlarged.  When they went in to remove it, it literally disintegrated in the surgeon’s hands.  I am not kidding in the slightest.  The little piece they biopsied, thank God above was not cancerous but my body, with pretty much every system in my body, adrenals, immune, thyroid, liver, gut, had attacked my thyroid to the point where it literally fell apart.  They removed the half of the thyroid affected but I still had a long way to go to heal myself.  I tried absolutely everything; green juicing until I turned green, strict vegan, vegetarian and even Paleo eliminating fruits and ANY kind of sugar from my diet.  I was pretty diligent in every new thing I tried.  I did yoga religiously (still love that), experimented with raw in the dead of one winter (wow, that was a mistake and a half for my Vata constitution), you name it, in the name of healing, I did it.  Intuitive eating went out the window.  I realized that despite all my training as an Ayurvedic consultant ,  many many hours of research on thyroid health, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance and cancer treatments, I had no idea how to heal my body.  What was worse than that?  I forgot my body, when given the right tools, knew how to heal itself.

Fast forward 12 years, my half of a thyroid is functioning perfectly normally (albeit a little low being pregnant with triplets) without medication, my adrenals are balanced, and my hormones…..well, I am pregnant with triplets so I wouldn’t call those balanced but I did get pregnant quickly and easily so they were balanced 5 and a half months ago.  I am rarely ever ill and if I do feel unwell, it lasts a day, maybe two and my immune system works to kick out the invader.  I also, thanks to becoming a  Integrative and Functional Medicine practitioner, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and Holistic Health Coach, (along with countless biochemistry, functional endocrinology courses,  and orthomolecular nutrition courses)  understand the inner workings and interconnected nature of not only the endocrine system (to which the thyroid belongs) but how the endocrine system works with the circulatory, digestive, immune, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, urinary and even skeletel systems to create a balanced healthy human being.  It took me a very long time (and a LOT of studying)  to “get” that we are not the sum of individual “parts”.  If the thyroid function is “down” you can bet your bottom dollar many functions like the immune system and adrenal glands are also “out of whack”.  (I know. All that schooling and “out of whack” was the best I could come up with.?)

Here’s the good news.  Though when I work with a client we often employ many different panels of tests to pinpoint the problem/s, and we very often suggest supplements of key nutrients and compounds to support, stimulate or calm the particular system of the body, we also have amazing luck with using nutrition to nourish the thyroid, adrenals, and immune system into working in perfect concert again.

I forgot my body, when given the right tools, knew how to heal itself.

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So what can you do at home to nourish your thyroid?

Bone broth and high quality hydrolyzed bovine collagen or gelatin is a Godsend for thyroid function as it is incredibly nourishing and healing to the mucous membranes of the intestinal lining, incredibly good for “leaky gut” or IBS.  Both bone broth and gelatin are nourishing for those with Celiac’s Disease or a gluten intolerance  due to their rich proline and glycine amino acid profile as years of “microtearing” from whole grains due to gliadins, lectins, and gluten take their toll on the villi of the intestines.

Glycine is the simple amino acid imperative to the manufacturing process of other amino acids. It is vital in the body for the production of heme, the part of the blood that carries oxygen. It is also involved in glucogenesis (the manufacturing of glucose), supports digestion by boosting HCL (hydrochloric acid) and other gastric secretions. It is also essential for wound healing. It is a precursor amino acid for the manufacturing of glutathione and large amounts are needed for the liver to detoxify after chemical exposure or, in the case of estrogen dominance.   Glutathione is one of the supplements I recommend for immune system modulations in treatment of both Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease so the benefits of glycine becomes important to many functions of the body that encourage the thyroid to function properly.

Proline is the amino acid essential to the structure of collagen and is imperative for healthy bones, skin, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. It is found in small amounts in many foods (even soy), however vitamin C is necessary to metabolize proline into its active form. It can be manufactured by the body, but evidence shows that adequate dietary protein is necessary to maintain an optimal level of proline in the body. Proline has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on memory and integral in the prevention of depression. Since depression can suppress thyroid function, preventing it is a positive step to improving thyroid function.

Minerals in bone broth are plentiful, being high in calcium and phosphorous and a decent source of magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and (naturally occurring non-toxic) fluoride.

Calcium is needed for healthy bones, muscle contraction and relaxation, proper blood clotting and tissue repair, normal nerve conduction, and endocrine balance (a biggie for both adrenal and thyroid function).

Phosphorus is the “fuel” for the generation of energy in the body being an important ingredient of ATP  (adenosine triphosphate). It is also a super critical component of cell membranes and helps regulate intracellular pressure. A deficiency in phosphorus can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, muscle weakness, celiac disease, osteomalacia, and seizures. Incidentally calcium is needed to signal protein phosphatases (the breaking down of one phosphate bond to transform ATP to ADP which in turn transforms into cellular energy) showing you further how the presence minerals and vitamins lend themselves to the symphony of bodily functions.  (It also shows you how calcium supplements without the proper support to help synthesize it into the body is like expecting your dog to perform brain surgery.)

Magnesium is the most common dietary deficiency in the U.S. (Zinc is the second most common.) The mineral is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, is a cofactor for vitamins B1 and B6, and is needed in the synthesis of proteins, fatty acids, nucleic acids and prostaglandins. Proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction and relaxation, and parathyroid gland function are dependent on magnesium.

 

Tomorrow we will be looking at how to make bone broth.

In traditional diets (like the French) glycine rich meals are often consumed.  Meat is cooked on the bone and liver patês are regularly consumed.  In a Standard American Diet, even when high quality grass-fed or free range meats are consumed, often the “bits” are discarded in favor of “muscle meats” which lack the richness of glycine.

Rich in Vitamin C, which is necessary to metabolize proline, fresh orange juice (not the stuff in the box, and most certainly not the stuff in the tube!) also contains an ideal ratio of glucose to fructose as well as a hefty quantity of potassium and magnesium. Orange juice is pro-thyroid (the  magnesium content works with the thyroid to moderate stress) and  increases glucuronic acid which combines with other substances such as drugs, toxins, and hormones, and either carry them to other parts of the body or eliminates them through detoxification processes.  (Remember, the ability to detox toxins and excess estrogen directly relates to how T4 converts to T3 in the liver.) This combining(conjugation) makes  substances more water-soluble and easier to pass out of the body through the urine. The process also makes it easier for these substances, in this case, hormones, to be released wherever they are needed in the body.

Fresh orange juice is high in salicylates, (think salicylic acid in aspirin) which are powerfully anti-inflammatory. It can significantly reduce the stress hormones responsible for reduced insulin sensitivity or hypoglycemia. In conjunction with nutrient-dense foods such as wild shellfish, free-range eggs,  raw dairy and liver on occasion) these sugars can help rehabilitate the metabolism and suppress degenerative stress hormones.

My favorite thyroid booster is 8 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt , and 1 tablespoon hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin.

High quality complete protein which does not mean muscle meat at every meal.  It should be noted that the best protein sources are those that are non-inflammatory which contain the right amino acid and mineral balance (less cysteine that suppresses the thyroid, and more glycine and less phosphorus, more calcium and selenium, which aids the liver in conversion of T4 to T3). These include  free-range pastured eggs (from chickens who roam about eating bugs, grasses and seeds, not grain, and high quality unprocessed cheese (raw cheeses), raw whole milk  (if  tolerated) and wild fish and shellfish. With meat, look for wild when possible or  grass fed and grass finished, cuts on the bone, slow roasted with a little acid like wine, vinegar, or tomatoes, to draw out it’s gelatinous collagen and glycine-rich juices (ie. osso-bucco or lamb shanks)–  eating muscle meats alone are too inflammatory unless eaten with the naturally-occurring glycine from it’s cartilage and bone or, at the very least,  with a tablespoon or two of gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen which will complete its amino acid profile.

Healthy saturated fats (not polyunsaturated), particularly organic butter(this should be YELLOW, not white!!) , grass-fed ghee and coconut oil. Coconut oil supports thyroid function, increases metabolic rate, is protective against the oxidation of PUFAs released from the tissue, and suppresses and prevents fungal overgrowth.

Eating well ripened fruit (especially tropical fruit like pineapple and mango)can refuel the liver with glycogen to resume it’s role in thyroid hormone synthesis (conversion of T4 to T3 requires glucose).

Getting plenty of sun and/or Vitamin D supplements (preferably the former) helps modulate the immune system, promotes endocrine balance by controlling absorption and storage of calcium and facilitates the absorbtion of other nutrients by the small intestines. Two nutrients most dependent on Vitamin D in the body are calcium and phosphorous. A deficiency of Vitamin D will not only cause problems throughout the body because of its many functions, but it can also lead to a deficiency of phosphorous and calcium as the body is unable to absorb those minerals in sufficient quantities.

Catching your ZZZZZs.  Sleep is important for detoxification and restorative functions in the body.  Make sure you get 8-10 hours at night when possible.

Of course, vegetables figure into this providing trace minerals and vitamins and I encourage you to eat lots of silicon, sulfur, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, and copper rich vegetables, but for the purpose of healing the thyroid which in turn will heal the adrenals, liver, and gut, dark green leafy vegetables should be cooked when eaten and either coated in butter, ghee, or coconut oil.

These are some of the best ways you can begin your healing journey at home.  For a more in depth consultation contact me to talk about supplementation and an individual treatment plan.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Honestly, when trying to heal thyroid issues, especially when there are detoxification pathway issues or conversion issues, at least bones and gelatin are generally my course of treatment. Gelatin, at least in powder form is preferable for treatment of healing of the endocrine system. There are really few if any plant sources that will give you the kind of nourishment you need in this case, in my experience. If you are a pescatarian, fish heads and bones work. The only thing I can suggest if you are absolutely adamant about vegetarianism is to save the peels of all of your vegetables. Add these to water and add some soft skin vegetables and fennel, celery, turnips, whatever you have on hand. If you eat your peels, that’s OK too. For the sake of this soup, select a wide variety of vegetables – potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, beets, zucchini/squash – peel them, put the peels in the pot, and cut up the vegetables to put in the soup. You can also add celery, fennel and soft skinned vegetables that aren’t generally peeled. You should also liberally add herbs like parsley, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, whole chiles and any other you like. You want to maximize the variety of veggie peels and unpeeled veggies, spices, etc.

      Then dice two onions, slice two shallots, and peel two cloves of garlic and halve each clove. In an 8 quart stock pot, sweat these ingredients in coconut oil or grass-fed ghee with celtic sea salt (to taste; check again at the end for desired saltiness) until the onions are translucent. Fill 2/3 of the way with water and add a large piece of kelp, kombu or other preferred seaweed (this, of course, you don’t want to do if your iodine levels are high). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

      • says

        Thank you very much for your response and yes, I am committed to being a vegetarian, I’ve been one for over 40 years. Not a vegan, we do eat a little seafood now and then and will eat canned sodium free sardines when we hike, and I do make all my own broths-not a problem to make your recipe. I’m kind of a sodium free freak–I don’t salt any food, although i use a lot of herbs and spices, love cayenne and ginger and turmeric. sometimes i’ll use a himalayan salt as a finishing touch but even my son learned to enjoy the flavors and not heavily salt everything. I have a fairly low functioning thyroid and I’ve been taking Levoxyl for about 10 years, and a decent amount of supplements. My doc loves wheat grass and so do I.
        I really enjoy your blog!

        • thedetoxdiva says

          If you eat seafood I would suggest making fish broth!! It’s not EXACTLY the same but it’s close enough to get some really good benefits from the gelatin in bones and a really good source of iodine!

    • thedetoxdiva says

      I’d prefer it if you could find your way to a Whole Foods and buy Great Lakes Gelatin or the equivalent. I say this only because 1) You are using only 1 tbsp. at a time so the 16 oz. will last at least a month, and 2) The normal Knox is made with the byproducts of feed lot confinement farming cattle and I DO NOT TRUST what they are fed (plus they are grain fed and I don’t trust the health of the cow). It won’t hurt, ultimately, but it would be really good if you spend a little more for grass-fed beef gelatin. It’s worth it.

  1. Mina says

    Dear Jaqueline,
    I ve got a question: I have foggy memory and tend to forget things alot ,Is that also related to my metabolism disfunction?
    What do you suggest for eczema?I do have it on back of my neck and whats the worst thing ,in my genital area,And it hurts to death.I use creams and ointments but they are just as a mask,since right when i cut using them,they showup again.
    any suggestions?
    And Just to inform you,I am on my day 7 of avoiding carb with once in a week detox.
    Thanks for everything.
    Have a great Day,

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Mina, eczema is an immune disorder and you have to treat the immune disorder through nutrition and supplements (this is how I would treat it). You must find the immune trigger (could be gluten, could be wheat, could be leaky gut from years of gluten intolerance, it could be another food sensitivity or even something external you are allergic to). Second foggy memory is usually a dysfuction with the Ovarian, Adrenal, Thyroid axis so it probably means metabolic syndrome that has thrown off sex hormonal imbalance which has also caused the adrenals to stay in a stressed state. This is what you must repair. And you aren’t avoiding CARBS. Vegetables are carbs. You are avoiding GRAINS!!!

      • Mina says

        oh ,no one has said that to me before,they just called me “sick” and give me a bag of ointments and drops and said it HAS NO ACTUAL CURE!

        So ,im avoiding any bread ,pasta,high glycemic things like potatoe,rice and Legumes!!
        changed my oil,im on salads veggies n protein.
        Bone broth to come.
        Does this balance all ?I mean am I on the right path to cure all by one path?

        • spuderik says

          Mina, my ex-girlfriend has struggled with eczema for years. She tried everything under the sun without any improvement. When she tried gelatin (hydrolyzed collagen) it helped her skin dramatically. This suggests her problem was potentially leaky gut.

          • thedetoxdiva says

            Leaky gut is a powerful factor in eczema so yes, if the hydrolyzed collagen works for her, it is indicative of her needing to heal her gut first and foremost.

  2. says

    Very informative article/s around this site, and I liked it more that it gave emphasis on thyroid. I had hyperthyroidism (diffused toxic goiter) and also employed natural approach (I was on conventional Western anti-thyroid medication for 4 years, which probably did more harm than any good, before I quit and shifted purely into natural approach). I started with Chinese herbs / treatment which focused on bringing back thyroid function to normal. I avoided beans (particularly soy) and nuts in particular. Then just about 4 months ago, I incorporated a superfood for nourishment with an anti-inflammatory diet, and transfer factor for correcting my immune system. The result: let’s just say, as described in the other article, my body that was “out-of-tune” is now in beautiful harmony; my health has never been better. :)

    The rest of the story is on my blog I recently launched, http://the1111project.wordpress.com/ that aims to instill the awareness on natural healing, as well as other health issues that needs to be addressed — just like what thedetoxdiva is also about.

    God bless

  3. Mina says

    but I have a very allergic body,like i even cant mix oils to use as a lotion on my body ,I am afraid to use oils since my body gets very hot and itchy with rashes in that part though im so eager to use some natural and chemical free moisturizer or lotion ….Or I got my cornia transplanted and was the only patient which was allergic to the stiches n had to remove ALL of them after 3 weeks ,gluten is also involved,

    • thedetoxdiva says

      Mina that’s what I am telling you. You have immune responses going on. I am not really sure you are as allergic to oils as you may think (unless you are alergic to nuts or seeds) so you might want to try calendula, rosehip, or olive oil to nourish your skin.

      • Mina says

        no,i am allergic to seeds or nuts.,

        So,am i on the right Path now to heal and balance my body ?Anything I can add ?

        i will try rosehip n Olive oil,then.Thank you so much.

        • thedetoxdiva says

          I didn’t understand, you are or you aren’t allergic to seeds or nuts? If you aren’t there is no reason you couldn’t use almond oil. try those. Adding too much is just too much and if you react you won’t know where the reaction is coming from.

          • Mina says

            oh sorry i mistyped!No,i am NOT allergic to nuts and seeds.

            But my question is am i on the right path now to heal all/.?ahould I add something ?

          • thedetoxdiva says

            Then you have all the info you can possibly need now… You need to start slowly, adding in slowly so if you have a reaction you can identify it immediately.

  4. Mina says

    thank you.
    Will the food change or diet which i am on right now ,balance all and bring me back in the track with all these issues/?

    hormonal immabelnce,thyroid,metabolism disorder,memory fog,eczema,immune reaction….?

    • thedetoxdiva says

      It’s a start Mina. I’m sorry but to go more in depth would require a consultation. It would require forms to be filled out. I simply cannot treat you in comments on a blog. I do run a practice in Doha, Qatar so if you can manage to get here, I can do a consult and we can formulate a plan. I also do Skype for my long distance clients but payment for you would be an issue as you have no paypal or CC facilities. I cannot, without seeing the whole scenario, treat you or even give you any more ideas when not seeing the specificity of the situation . Right now, I am just giving you an educated guess.

  5. Mina says

    oH ,OKay .I see.Thank you so much ,You’ve helped me much so far now though,I will be continuing my diet to see what happens then as I have no other choice now,tolerating my issues,But i would appreciate if you have a post about metabolic syndrome and also immune disorder..
    Thank you so much.

  6. says

    Nice article, but mainly I just want to say congratulations on your pregnancy! With triplets! Best of luck for a healthy pregnancy and birth with these three!

    • thedetoxdiva says

      I am wondering if you have any words of wisdom for our readers on why having a midwife can be such a blessing. I have a doula that I just love and while I am having my three C-section, I believe in midwives and doulas strongly. Care to share?

  7. says

    I was having the worst menstrual cycles and it turned out my thyroid was the problem. It took awhile to find a good doctor that knew how to treat it properly. I had a lot of BS problems until my thyroid was optimized. I change my diet and I am feeling great. Great post I love it. I also love using midwives when my kids were born.

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